A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2005, vol 1 no 1

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Tim Hawkes, USA


A statue of Kannon, goddess of mercy, overlooks the city of Takasaki from atop a tall hill. In early Spring cherry blossoms cover the hill from top to bottom. Although you can drive to the statue (and most people do), my companion and I climb the stone steps on one side. Despite the crowds at the top, surging around the statue and temples surrounding it, we find the staircase largely deserted, perhaps because of its great length.

concessions queue
the seated Buddha
covered in moss

On the way down, we come across an old man in a suit and hat. He's facing away from us, maybe 50 yards further down, and neither climbing nor descending, but standing still, with hands clasped behind his back. In front of him, there's nothing but an empty staircase and the white-pink petals, tumbling in the wind. We watch for a minute or two, expecting him to move on, but he does not. He just stands there, shifting his weight slowly from one foot to the other, watching the petals fall.

playground . . .
no one bats an eye
at the blossoms


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